Pepsi is one of the largest and most recognizable brands in the world. With plenty of soft drink brands vying for the top position, Pepsi must work to maintain its status. Staying on top requires investing significant time and effort into advertising. The same requirement applies to you and your Amazon products.
Amazon sellers who sell branded products should understand the importance of maintaining and defending that brand using Amazon Branded Advertising.
Amazon Branded Advertising allows brands to pay for advertising based on relevant keywords that you have chosen for your brand. That way, when people search for your brand, they won't see your competitors in the featured products slot. You can also learn more about selling private-label products on Amazon in this article.
Those with a limited advertising budget might say wonder whether paid advertising is worth the money.
We will discuss in detail the pros and cons of branded advertising in this article. Once you are informed, you can decide what's right for your business and budget.
1. Introduction to Branded Keywords
The image above shows Carhartt, one of the most famous men's clothing brands in America. Carhartt is known to have a very recognizable clothing brand.
If you search for "Carhartt," on Google, you'll have to scroll down quite a bit before finding their competitors.
Carhartt understands how important it is to own their branded keywords. They have put in significant effort to make sure they appear first in search results. Branded keywords refer to any keywords that include a reference to your brand.
Branded keywords include all variants of how a person might search for your brand. For example, Carhartt's branded keywords likely include the following:
- Carhartt T-Shirt
- Carhartt Jacket
- Carhartt Clothes
By comparison, let's look up another well-known brand: Nike.
Upon searching for Nike, the first thing you will see is actually another brand, "Kapsen". The name "Kapsen" may not have the same automatic brand recognition as Nike. By targeting their keyword, many more potential customers who search "Nike" will end up seeing their brand, too. Eventually, someone is going to say, "Wow, those look like nice shoes!"
By owning all of your branded ads, you have a greater chance of controlling the buyer's journey.
Branded Keywords vs. Non-Branded Keywords
When looking at your advertising costs, you may be more inclined to remove brand ads over the alternative: non-branded keywords. As you might expect, anything that is non-branded on your keyword list includes everything else.
Going back to our Carhartt example, your keyword targets among non-branded variants would look like this:
These keywords are typically not helpful, as they are incredibly generic. Still, they provide us an important reminder of the most basic definition of what we sell.
These basic terms are known as seed keywords, which provide you with the most fundamental place to start. Seed keywords are typically two (or fewer) words. They expand into long-tail keywords, which sometimes include brand-related keywords. Many Amazon sellers use an Amazon Keyword Tracking tool, or an Amazon Keyword Research tool, in order to choose the most optimized keywords. It's much easier and more efficient than taking a stab in the dark when choosing.
Seed and brand keywords can sometimes be the same as big brands like Pepsi, Carhartt, Coke, and Clorox. However, if your brand lacks recognition and searchability, a basic search time like "t-shirt" should not be on your seed keywords list.
2. How Brand Keywords Mimic Retargetting Efforts
When people search for your brand on Amazon, it's important that they can find it! Customers will get to know your brand and with familiarity comes loyalty. You want to be on that first page of the search engine results (aka, SERP).
A company called Mio, for example, has almost complete ownership of the first two layers of their brand-based search term. However, you should know that Amazon will never enable brands to own 100% of any real estate.
Therefore, you must think about your search terms in the same way you think about retargeting. You aren’t likely to convert the first time when someone sees your brand. Typically, retargeting increases your likelihood of conversion by 70%.
Ultimately, the lesson is that if you don’t want to give that 70% to your competitor, you should bid on keywords for your brand name.
3. Segmentation of Branded Keywords Using Negative Keywords
For those who have multiple Amazon PPC campaigns, ad segmentation is essential. This becomes quintessential when targeting branded and non-branded keywords.
This is because brand-based keywords aren’t built to gain more potential customers. You’ll need to utilize negative keywords, too.
Negative keywords are those words that you want explicitly removed from your ad campaign. For common keywords, this means eliminating targets that are less relevant to your products.
When creating those ad campaigns, you’ll have three different types:
- Ad campaigns to target prospective buyers using standard keywords
- Advertising to retain customers when they search for your brand
- Ads to target competitor brands to take their customers
We will revisit number three a bit later. For now, focus on the idea of branded vs. non-branded keywords and how you will need to add your brand to the negative keywords list of your non-branded keyword targets.
4. The Benefits of Branded Keywords
Having branded keywords provides you with a plethora of benefits. Here are the top four.
Benefit 1: Nobody Riding On Your Coattails
Earlier in the article, we examined two scenarios using branded keywords. First, the situation under Carhartt where they had almost complete control over their brand keyword. Second, the Nike situation where the first thing you saw was a competitor’s shoe.
Brands of that size can probably give up that slot to competitors if they have other marketplaces. But small businesses rarely have the same amount of social clout to justify giving that slot up.
If you give your competitor an advantage, they will take it. So you don't want them creating an Amazon PPC campaign built around your brand keywords.
By owning your brand keywords, you prevent the competition from catching up. If your business starts to grow, you can use that extra funding to maintain your search terms.
Benefit 2: A Search-Based Storefront
If you are a member of the Amazon Brand Registry, you are already familiar with Amazon Stores. If you are a member and don’t know what we are talking about, you can check out this ultimate guide to Amazon stores and data tools.
As a brand, you are in a unique position to gain storefront authority. This storefront is an excellent way to direct people to your most effective product listings. It also enables you to establish brand loyalty, which is essential when gaining repeat customers.
When it comes to search terms, anybody can sponsor ads for your keywords and on your page. But if you maintain ownership of the search terms regarding your brand, you can have multiple storefronts.
Each search term on Amazon is technically considered a unique web page. If you optimize your product titles to include your brand, you will always be the most relevant search result.
So if you treat your brand keyword like its own storefront, you will maintain it as a high level of importance. This can be an essential part of your advertising strategy.
Benefit 3: Brand Bidding is an Easy Win
Part of your advertising strategy for your branded keywords involves bidding. Many successful sellers use an Amazon Advertising Platform to optimize their ads and bidding. But when it comes to branded and non-branded keywords, bidding on your brand is almost always less expensive than your other targets.
This is the case because most people who target keywords understand that choosing the right keywords is essential. You can read more about Amazon's A10 Algorithm in our blog article. More and more, tailoring your listings to optimize for Amazon's algorithm is incredibly important.
Because of this, most competitors won’t bother targeting your brand keyword. It is not the most competitive area to focus on, so you should take it to maintain ownership of your brand pages.
While recognition of your brand will eventually become more competitive, it will still be less competitive than other standard keywords. Keep this in mind when weighing the cost of sales of your advertising budget.
Benefit 4: Segmenting Ads Gives You More Awareness of Where Your Money is Going
Having multiple advertising campaigns means you can segment costs with greater ease. Setting reasonable limits for each campaign enables you to have a greater understanding of how much you need to invest in having control over your ads.
This process enables you to have more direct control over your budget and segment sections into which you might need to invest. If you have everything under one bucket, it prevents you from tracking different expenses.
More management, in this case, might not be a bad thing, as you can decide changes on a case-by-case basis. No more looking at a complete ad report that contains a combination of keywords you have to dig through.
5. Potential Drawbacks of Brand Bidding
When it comes to Amazon PPC towards your brand keywords, not everything is golden. When choosing between branded and non-branded keywords, here are some drawbacks you might experience:
Drawback 1: It is Redundant
Paying to own your brand is a bit redundant, so it can be frustrating when you have to fight over your target audience with someone else regarding your own brand name. Given that you likely own the organic search page, paying extra for all the slots on that page doesn't always seem fair.
You’ll find that most people like to avoid paid search as much as possible. Organic conversion rates are usually around 15%, which is far higher than paid search results.
If you are an Amazon seller, there is a fair chance that this gamble will mean your competitors will get one or two sales from being in the top slot. Meanwhile, loyal brand followers are likely to recognize the paid search attempt, scrolling down to ignore it.
Drawback 2: It Takes Away from Amazon PPC in Other Places
New sellers on Amazon won’t likely have to address this, but sellers with a bit of experience and a solid brand will find these efforts might be a drain on their advertising budget. While it is cheap to pay for advertising for your brand, it still costs money.
If your brand grows in popularity, that means more money for you but higher competition for your brand results. In few cases, you’ll find competitors desperate to take over your brand page. Those competitors can drive up the cost of your branded keyword, forcing you to bid more.
If your competition has a more incredible wealth of funding than you, you’ll find yourself struggling. This can happen if the competitiveness in your market grows.
So at this point, you’ll ask yourself how branded, and non-branded keywords compare. In some cases, you might have to take away from the brand keywords to get to the common keywords.
Drawback 3: You Aren’t Likely To Gain Extra Sales
When you pay for sponsored brands of sponsored products advertising, your specific goal is to gain sales. However, paying for advertising on your brand doesn’t result in more sales; it only increases brand loyalty retention.
Retention refers to gaining customers who already know of your brand. Someone sneaking into those slots at the last minute can take away sales. However, paying for your brand doesn’t draw new people in.
A willingness to recognize this will help you out, but you really shouldn’t consider paying for your brand ads as an advertising cost. Instead, it’s more of a defense cost, preventing others from taking advantage of what you’ve built.
Drawback 4: It’s Another Advertising Campaign You Need To Manage
When you have to handle three different advertising campaigns, it’s a lot of work. So if you want to add another ad campaign, make sure your team has the resources to manage it.
This might include expanding your advertising budget to include extra resources. Delegation to the right people will be necessary, as you want to be sure you have someone with experience in managing these unique campaigns on your team.
For small teams of less than ten people, this can be a pretty challenging scenario. Larger groups with more resources are usually more effective in managing a multitude of campaign types.
You will also find that more campaigns created means more advertising reports. This means that your team will spend more time finding important information.
6. What About Paying for Advertising off of Amazon?
If your brand has recognition on Amazon, it has potential recognition off-site, too. To determine this, utilize off-site Google research tools to determine if you have any popularity. Google Trends is an excellent tool for this purpose.
In several other articles, we’ve mentioned the importance of not relying on a single marketplace. But when it comes to advertising off of Amazon, you should only do brand advertising if you already have that recognition.
The cost of that advertisement is usually inexpensive. Many of the same rules mentioned above apply to any form of advertising using keywords. It's really helpful to use DataHawk's Amazon Advertising Solution to help you manage your sponsored brand campaigns.
There are no keywords to target when it comes to social media-based advertising (like Facebook Ads).
7. Should You Bid on Your Competitor’s Brand?
When answering this question in the most generic form, the obvious answer is yes. However, targeting competitor’s brand keywords is rarely obvious, so you’ll need to think of the results.
So ask yourself these questions before assuming it’s a good idea:
Are Your Products Good Substitutions?
The first question you need to ask yourself comes back to finding your actual competition. While you might share many keywords, that’s not always a sign that they are great competition.
If you target your competitor’s brand keywords, you want to look at their product line. If your product is a suitable substitute for what they offer, target their keywords. Otherwise, you might want to consider other brands that are closer to your offerings.
How Much Clout Does Their Brand Have?
When you target someone else’s brand, you are gaining access to their audience. But before you do so, you want to ask yourself how big their audience is.
Much of this information can be found while creating PPC campaigns. Looking at the traffic behind search terms is a common feature found with any Amazon advertising platform.
If the search term is only in the lower hundreds, it’s likely not worth targeting. Knowing that conversion rates for these are pretty low, always weigh your potential sales against the investment.
What Is Your Profit Potential?
One way of determining how much you can earn is by applying standard conversion rates to your ads. Let’s say that you have a daily budget of $25 on your competitor’s ads.
This information comes on the heels of a 1% conversion rate, which is pretty typical. So that means you’ll be spending $175 a week to rank for your competitor’s keywords.
Assuming they receive 1000 searches per week for the target keyword, you will most likely make ten sales from that stack. So assuming that other costs are out of the picture, you would need to sell your product for $17.50 to make up this difference alone.
You’ll want to include a complete picture of expenses in this as well. These include fixed and variable costs from other segments of your business:
- Fulfillment costs
- Inventory management costs
- Overhead costs
- Labor costs
After breaking all these down over those units, you’ll want to determine what profit you need to make those ten sales worth it. This is determining your total COGS (Cost of Good Sold)
DataHawk’s Amazon Advertising tools can help you track the historic sales behind these keywords. But you will still need to include other forms of earnings.
8. Amazon SEO and Branded Keywords
Our last section delves into the subject of Amazon SEO. Specifically, comparing your brand with other brands also available on Amazon. It’s a common question you find people asking on the Seller Central forums.
In conclusion, can you mention competitor brands on Amazon? No. Amazon’s policy is not to say your product is superior to competing brands. This form of advertising is considered a bad business practice could result in a trademark infringement issue.
You’ll want to avoid this form of advertising if at all possible. Mainly because buyers already do this by performing product research.
If you want to prove your product to be more superior to others, make it more exceptional. Affiliates will pick up on high-quality products, and that will reflect in reviews.
Comparing your product with another business isn’t suitable, and you don’t want to be the “generic form” of a superior brand.
The Amazon Influencer program is also another way that people can see your superiority. While you can say how much better your product is to others, influencers and affiliates are in different categories.
9. Is Branded and Non-Branded Advertising Considered Effective?
As a combo, it’s important to remember that the two serve different purposes:
- Branded advertising defends your brand from people who would take your customers.
- Non-branded advertising acquires new customers using generic keywords.
Advertising on other people’s brands fulfills the same category as non-branded advertising with the bonus of outperforming competitors at the same time.
Its effectiveness can be significant. You’ll just need to find the best advertising mix for you. Until your brand has solid recognition, you will direct most of your advertising to people who are discovering your products for the first time.
As an early seller, you can put this one on the back burner for a little bit. But once your brand starts reaching recognition, it’s time to bust out the advertising budget and expand it to include your brand.
10. Wrap Up
Amazon Branded Advertising is necessary to defend your brand from competitors. Without bidding for your brand keywords, the first thing that buyers see when searching for your brand is alternatives. For brands still establishing brand loyalty, this can result in lost customers.
While it’s true that you can regain those potential sales through sponsored products advertising, it is far easier to sell to someone who is already seeking you out. By owning the branded keywords associated with your name, people will stay focused on pursuing your product. It takes all forms of advertising to eliminate alternatives in your customer’s eyes.
To keep a close eye on your branded keywords, check out DataHawk’s Amazon keyword tracker. This tool, combined with other actionable data points, can enable you to own all forms of your branded keyword effectively.